You’ve seen the competitions: American Idol, America’s Got Talent, The Voice.
The latecomers: Jim “The Rookie” Morris, Chris Gardner, and others.
You might even be one of those kids: Poor, abusive home, surrounded by drugs and crime.
Or… your parents told you that you’ve got one and only shot. You have to make all the right choices so you don’t screw it up like they did. Maybe they sacrificed it all so you could have everything. It’s all on your shoulders.
Whatever your shot is, all you can think about is how you don’t want to mess it up.
You don’t want to end up like all those other people, full of promise and hope. Until… they made that one decision that blew up their life. All you see now is a sea of wasted of potential and washed-up lives.
You feel the pressure. Don’t you? Like an oppressive summer heat gripping your throat. A thick, unrelenting shroud that keeps you up late at night.
You know you’re going to. Screw it up, that is. You tell yourself you won’t. But you’ve got that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that won’t let go. Like a piece of toilet paper that clings to the bottom of your shoe and follows you out of the bathroom until it’s too late.
You might even feel like you’re past your prime, that you’ve already missed your shot.
I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in the wrong neighborhood. I don’t know how many times I walked past someone who extended a hand.
One filled with a pipe and a crack rock as they offered me a hit, which I always turned down.
I remember another night. Christmas, 1989. The crisp winter air stung my face as I went to the convenience store with my little sister. It ended with me staring down the barrel of a gun.
I cheated death. It wouldn’t be the last time.
And even when I thought I made it out, ticket-to-Hawaii in hand, I couldn’t shake that feeling. It took me awhile to discover the truth.
If you let me, I can show you.
Your first step
What’s the desire that eats at you, the longing that burns within? Whatever you think your passion is, you’ll never achieve it if you don’t know why you need it so badly.
It’s a selfish thing. If you don’t want it for yourself, you’ll never get it.
Dreams are tricky like that. If it’s not something you want, if you want it to impress others, you’ll make those nightmares of sabotaging yourself come true.
Do you want to be famous, or is it money you want? What’s the cash for? Want to buy a house? What’s the house for?
It’s okay if you want to help someone, if that’s your why. But it has to be something you want, not something your parents or friends expect or want for you.
If you can’t figure out your why, ask for help.
This is how.
You can’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. No one should expect you to.
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was letting my ego get in the way of humility. I was too arrogant and ashamed to admit I didn’t have all the answers.
I felt like I raised myself, that I didn’t need anyone. I got where I was by brute force. Why should I have to rely on someone else when I couldn’t immediately see the answer? If I spent enough time and looked in the right place, I would find a solution.
That was a lie.
I was responsible for my life. That much was true. But I didn’t do it alone, at least not most of the time. Stubbornness cost me a lot. For a while, I thought it cost me everything.
As much as you need to be selfish, you must also be humble.
Don’t confuse humility and a desire to learn as a sign of weakness or stupidity. It’s a sign of strength, and it will lead you to the answer.
Find a mentor.
I don’t care how alone you think you are, there are people who’ve been in similar situations. There are people who’ve already discovered the roadblocks.
Wouldn’t you prefer to avoid them?
Once you seek guidance, set your path. Lay a plan to reach where you want to go.
And remember, plans change. You can’t foresee all the obstacles. Sometimes, you’ll discover the path you’re on is the wrong one.
You’ll often change course, but that’s okay. It’s expected.
Even the most well-researched plans need many tiny adjustments to reach their final destination.
You will never see all that’s required. You might not even see most of it. But if you have patience and determination, all you need is one step at a time.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” — Lao Tzu
The only way to see your plan to the end is by putting one foot in front of the other. The easiest way to do that is by taking small steps.
Achieving your goal requires consistency. This requires effective habits. The simplest way to form those habits is by making tiny steps daily until they become part of your routine.
If the steps are tiny enough, it will take more mental effort not to do them. Keep that up until those actions become permanent. Once they do, you drop the need for willpower and can use that energy to fine-tune your route.
Behind the curtain
It took me a long time to learn. Some people never do.
There is no one-shot.
Each day brings new opportunities and more shots than you can imagine. You have to be willing to see them.
Your age, your past, or any other excuse can’t keep you from creating the life you want to live. Your dreams may not arrive on your time in your terms, but that’s life.
The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can get down to the business of building what’s required: A solid foundation.
It’s easy to buy into the belief of the one-shot because it deludes you into thinking achievement requires little effort. Or that if you achieve your goal, you’ll never have to work like that again. That’s where most people fail.
But greatness comes from commitment. Greatness in life comes from developing the character and grit day in and day out.
You must be willing to develop the overlooked habits, the things that seem insignificant on their own but over time add up to the entire ballgame. You have to develop the habits that stick with you even after you achieve that thing.
You’re not dead yet
When you get to that point where you feel like you missed it. When you’re ready to throw in the towel, remember why you wanted it in the first place.
Life is a sum total of the actions you take. You can’t control everything that happens, but you can control your response. No one can take that away. That’s your choice.
The next time something negative happens in your life, how will you respond? The next time you feel like you missed your shot, will you give up? Or…
Will you decide you owe it to yourself to make today and every day the best day of your life?
Call To Action
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